Annual Christmas Tour

“Annual Christmas Tour” – a report from the Marshall County Historical Museum (text as printed in The South Reporter on November 7, 2013)

I meant to go, but I missed it. Then I missed the one after that, and the one following. Somehow, it’s easier to miss events in your hometown than it is to catch them elsewhere.

“We’ll go next year.”­­­­­

In my 11 years of living in San Francisco, my cousin and I said that about the “Ghost Tour” there. Every night that we walked by the Queen Anne Hotel, we saw the glimmer of a lantern, and a bearded host with a top hat. Not to mention the twenty or so tourists wandering the street for a better photo of the ‘spirits’. We called them a nuisance for blocking the sidewalk, but truthfully, we were just envious. Here we lived, and we were missing out.

We never took the tour. My cousin moved out of the city, and, not long after, so did I. When I moved back to Holly Springs, I wanted to make it up to myself. I asked about touring the town’s historical homes, but, with great disappointment, the only answer I received was ‘Spring Pilgrimage’. I knew that couldn’t be the only tour in Holly Springs, and, as I discovered, it’s not!

On December 7th and 8th, there is a tour of Federal-Style, Gothic and Greek Revival architecture, where stories will be told of bayonet charges, and the songs of an A cappella choir charm the visitors at Rust College. Toss in some candle light, plus a flurry of 19th century homes decked out in their holiday finest, and I’ll be the first in line, camera in tow. Ghosts may, or may not, be included.

Now in its 25th year, the “Christmas Home Tour” showcases 11 historical structures not featured during this year’s Pilgrimage. A few of the homes highlighted are “Gwydir”, built by Chancery Clerk James Barratt Walthall in 1886, “Polk Place”, built in 1836 by Confederate General Thomas Polk, and “Magnolias”, built in 1852 by one of Holly Springs’ founder William F. Mason.



A great example of Gothic-Revival architecture, the Magnolias house appeared in the 1999 independent film “Cookie’s Fortune”, by “Gosford Park” director Robert Altman. The iconic home was painted pink for the movie, becoming the set for key plot moments between Glenn Close and Julianne Moore.

If you’re an art enthusiast, “Herndon” house reveals a rare look at the working art studio of renowned artist, Randy Hayes. Hayes, a Mississippi native, returned to the Mid-South after several years spent as a commercial artist in Boston and Seattle. His artwork explores subcultures, including Southern themes, through photography and painting.

For added variety, not every stop on the tour is a historical home. There are plenty of historical sites, too. The N.B. Forrest house at Fitch Farms will be open for viewing, along with Chalmers Institute, and the Church of the Yellow Fever Martyrs, where the Five Sisters of Charity nursed victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1878.

Of course, don’t forget to visit the Marshall County Historical Museum. The Annual Christmas Homes Tour is the Museum’s sole fund-raising event to benefit future exhibits, and educational programs. Docents will be waiting to answer your questions, and introduce you to the hundreds of unique artifacts that bring Holly Springs’ heritage to life.

Advanced tickets for the The 25th Annual Christmas Tour are available online now through PayPal at:

For group rates, call the Museum at (662) 252-3669.

For more information about the Marshall County Historical Museum, or to see photos from last year’s Christmas Tour, please visit our Facebook page at:


Megan Wolfe
About the Author:
I'm a San Francisco photographer and writer currently based in the South. My work is inspired by weathered history, interviews with locals, and wanderlust.

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